Driver Runs Over And Kills Marine’s Therapy Dog, Then Sues For Damages

Dog owner was working off leash with his dog when the dog gave chase to a deer and got hit by a car.

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Retired Marine Col. Ken Herrington and his dog, Dakota Rambo Higgins in happier times. Via  Ken Herrington/Courier-Journal
Retired Marine Col. Ken Herrington and his dog, Dakota Rambo Higgins in happier times. Via Ken Herrington/Courier-Journal
John Virata

Imagine you are training your dog off leash and he sees a deer and takes off running into the street where he unfortunately gets hit by a car. Imagine the person who hit your dog helping you load your dying best friend into your car so you can rush him to the veterinarian. Now imagine a few months later receiving a bill for the damages allegedly done to the car that hit and killed your dog.

That is the ordeal that retired Marine Col. Ken Herrington, of Louisville, Kentucky, has gone through when his German Shepherd therapy dog, Dakota Rambo Higgins, ran into the street October 29, 2015, and got hit by a car driven by Maggie Cassaro, according to the Courier-Journal.

Nine weeks after the accident that killed his dog, Herrington received a letter from Cassaro demanding that he pay $910.60 for damages to the car’s bumper and side panel, allegedly caused by Dakota when he ran into the street and got hit by the Honda Accord Cassaro was driving.

Dakota Rambo Higgins was hit by a car and died. Via Ken Herrington/Courier-Journal

Dakota Rambo Higgins was hit by a car and died while off leash. Via Ken Herrington/Courier-Journal

“I thought it was heartless,” Herrington told the Courier-Journal. He described Dakota Rambo Higgins as his “therapy dog, best friend and the son I never had.”

“There was no mention of how the dog was doing.”

Herrington ignored the letter, but then received another letter from an attorney stating that legal action would be taken unless he paid the amount Cassaro demanded. He has refused, writing back to the attorney that “this is like shooting and killing a child, then sending a bill for the bullets.”

Cassaro filed suit September 26 with the small claims division of Jefferson District Court, and she just may have the law on her side. According to the Courier-Journal, chapter 91 of the Louisville Metro ordinances states that “all animals, excluding community cats, shall be kept under restraint at all times” and that “any person owning, controlling, or having care or custody of any animal shall be liable for… any damage caused by such animal to public or private property.”

In response to the suit, Herrington filed papers in court stating that there were no skid marks on the street where she hit his dog, he didn’t see any damage to the the car and she didn’t mention any at the time, and that she never filed a police report. Herrington also filed a suit of his own, seeking $500 for the cost of his “therapy dog and best friend.”

“I cannot recover the cost of 900 hours of training, the close personal attachment and love that he provided,” he also wrote in his suit.

According to the Courier-Journal, Cassaro has blamed the death of Dakota Rambo Higgins squarely on Herrington, claiming he is the one who failed to restrain his dog, and he should be grateful that his dog didn’t cause a a more serious accident.

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  • What a heartless thing to do to someone. How could you hit any animal no matter the circumstance then sue the owner for damages to your vehicle. Drivers should be in control of their vehicles and aware of their surroundings at all times. The dog ran after a deer so I assume that deer populate the area and most likely being anywhere near a road there are signs stating deer/animal crossing so this driver should have been extra aware of her surroundings. If a child ran into the road and she hit that child and killed it would she still sue for damages. I dont care what the law says about pets being off leash she killed the poor defenseless animal and obviously didnt feel guilty about taking its life. People who kill animals and have no remorse should be locked up in jail or mental facilities because that just isnt right. I really hope a judge finds compassion for this honorable man and his beloved pet. Military dogs need different care and an altogether exercise regime than regular house dogs. They go through extensive training an actually have important jobs in our military. Letting the dog off its leash was more than likely needed for its benifit. This cold hearted cruella deville just wants to make a buck off this mans suffering. Its sick.

    Dave November 2, 2016 2:27 pm Reply
  • Sick bitch

    Sammy November 2, 2016 2:31 pm Reply
  • I can see the legal side of it – the dog was supposed to be on a leash. But as others have pointed out do you sue the deer when thy run out into the road? Do you sue the parents of a child when they run out into the road. I would think this would be covered under the drivers comprehensive.

    Susan Swan November 3, 2016 5:45 am Reply
  • Just the fact that so long passed before she sent the bill makes me believe there was another accident and she saw this as a way to get her money back.
    Then the fact that she filed no police report shows there was insufficient damage for her to do anything about it. Sorta seems like there ought to be a statute of limitations, like 90 days or something.
    And then the fact that Rambo was a therapy dog sets him completely apart from other “pets”. He should get all this info together and file a counter-suit if it comes to that.

    Veteran November 4, 2016 2:33 pm Reply

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